Massive march to Parliament to demand Shabangu does more to end violence

| Thembela Ntongana
Thousands marched through Cape Town on 27 November 2014 to demand an end to gender based violence. Photo by Masixole Feni.

“No more lip services, we want action. No more boardroom activism, no more!” shouted thousands of activists as they marched to parliament today.

The march was organised by Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke) in partnership with over 30 human rights organisations to demand a national strategic plan to end gender based violence.

The organisations demanded government to take action and prioritise ending the rapes, batteries and assaults on thousands of citizens. They also challenged government to live up to its promises to develop and fund a national strategic plan on gender based violence.

On Friday, Minister of Women Affairs Susan Shabangu announced that her ministry would conduct provincial dialogues in order to better understand the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality, to develop a research agenda and to inform the government’s national strategic plan on gender-based violence.

In a media statement released by the protesting organisations, they welcomed the minister’s public re-commitment but stated that it is not enough.

They stated they wanted a National Strategic Plan that is fully costed and commits significant new resources, one that is developed through an open, inclusive and consultative process and creates real accountability by “reviving and reconstituting the moribund National Gender- Based Violence Council.”

Fozia Jacobs and Nuraan Haynie from Mitchells Plain, who volunteer at the AIDS legal Network said it was disappointing that more people from Coloured communities didn’t come.

“Every day in Mitchells Plain women and children are abused, and many of them keep quiet. Many HIV-positive people are either physically or verbally abused by the community. We are here to encourage them to speak out, show them that they are not alone and we want the government to also listen to us and hear the little people in communities,” said Haynie.

Fozia Jacobs of the AIDS Legal Network. Photo by Masixole Feni.

Representatives from different organisations were given the opportunity to address the crowd outside parliament.

“We demand decriminalisation of sex workers, many have died on duty and it is time for them to be heard,” said Ruvimbo Tenga from the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce.

“We want you to do the job you have been hired to do Minister Shabangu. We have had enough of gender based violence,” said Nothando Qabaza from the Treatment Action Campaign.

A memorandum was handed over to Director General of the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Veliswa Baduza, and shadow Minister of Women Denise Robinson.

“I am accepting this memorandum on behalf of Minister Shabangu and as government we are saying everybody is responsible in ending gender based violence,” said Baduza.

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TOPICS:  Civil Society Gender Human Rights Violence

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